How the CARES Act May Assist Self-Employed Architects

The new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that was just made into law may provide economic assistance for architects who are self-employed.

Under Title II, Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses the Unemployment Insurance Provisions Eligibility, the new law expands the scope of individuals who are eligible for unemployment benefits to those who are furloughed or out of work as a direct result of COVID-19, self-employed or gig workers, and those who have exhausted existing state and federal unemployment benefit provisions. The only individuals expressly excluded from coverage are those who can telework with pay and those who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid benefits (even if they otherwise satisfy the criteria for unemployment under the new law).

It’s important to note that the benefits are to be administered by each state upon the state’s written agreement with the Secretary of Labor to provide the specific benefits. It is not clear what each state will require on the application or how it will interpret the out of work or telework from home conditions. In addition, the law provides an increase of $600 per week in the amounts customarily available for unemployment under state law through July 31, 2020 (approximately four months). Self-employed workers will also be eligible for the additional $600 weekly benefit provided by the Federal government. Therefore, to determine the amount one receives, the member will need to contact their state unemployment office.

Benefit amounts will be calculated based on previous income, using a formula from the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program, according to a congressional aide as cited in the New York Times.

It is important to note that the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package includes nearly $350 billion for a small business loan program called the Paycheck Protection Program. The program is designed to get cash into the hands of suffering small businesses quickly, which according to the Washington Post, will have less red tape and fewer guardrails than the SBA’s existing loan programs. It is designed to incentivize business owners to keep employees on the payroll by offering them loan forgiveness.

The new loan program is separate from existing federal loan programs, including the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief loans. To learn about the SBA’s other relief programs, visit the SBA’s covid-19 resource center or follow The Post’s federal disaster relief business loan Q&A. The application has been posted on the Treasury Department’s CARES Act resource page.

Learn more about how small-business owners can access the new federal Paycheck Protection Program.


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